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Avalanche defeats Lightning 7-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the cup final

DENVER – Cale Makar barely smiled after scoring his second goal and Colorado’s seventh. He punched Mikko Rantanen to thank him for the pass and ran to the bench.

He and the Avalanche are calm, confident, and rolling. They are now two wins away from dethroning the two-time defending champion.

Looking like the far better team, the Avalanche overwhelmed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Saturday night.

Coach Jared Bednar called it “a near perfect game as you can achieve from your players”.

“I feel like we played with our identities tonight,” Makar said. “We had some good goals and things like that. … It was a bit strange tonight. Obviously we get chances but the guys were able to capitalize so that’s a good part.”

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Valeri Nichushkin scored his seventh and eighth goals in the playoffs and continued to be the best player on the ice in the finals. Game 1 overtime hero Andre Burakovsky once again beat Andrei Vasilevskiy and even got in the fun at defensive end Josh Manson and 35-year-old grinder Darren Helm by a goal apiece. Makar, who didn’t even have a shot on target in Game 1, scored twice in the third period and elicited “We want the trophy!” shouts. from a heated crowd.

“They are playing at an elite level right now – give them credit. We’re not,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “These are two good teams. They’re just playing at a much higher level than us at the moment.”

Seldom have the Lightning been completely outclassed during this postseason winning streak, but neither have they faced an opponent like the Avalanche, who forced them into one unusual error after another. Colorado was dominant in every facet of the game to be two wins away from its first title since 2001 and the first by that core, led by Nathan MacKinnon.

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The Avalanche head to Tampa for Game 3 Monday night, though MacKinnon hasn’t scored in the series. who sometimes played like a man possessed in an effort to finally break and hoist the trophy. They still became only the third team in NHL history to score more than three goals in the first period of Games 1 and 2 of the Finals.

“We played a pretty good game,” said Helm. “We just played a full 60-minute game.”

The dominant performance began with him catching an early error from typically reliable Lightning defender Erik Cernak when he bounced the puck at the blue line in one of the early shifts of the game. After that it was all avalanche.

Their aggressive forecheck saw them draw a penalty on veteran Ryan McDonagh and score on the ensuing power play when Burakovsky served Nichushkin for the first time of the night. It wasn’t his last, and Colorado poured it out with six of the game’s first seven shots and complete territorial dominance with much of the game ending Tampa Bay.

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With Vasilevskiy – whose play was key to the Lightning’s incredible ability to bounce back from a playoff loss – he looked shaky and even dropped his head after being swept away by Makar in one of many 2-on-1s -Let rushes be hit cleanly, the Avalanche mostly made their offensive zone time. The team with the most goals this postseason held a trial against the team that has played more hockey than anyone else in the last two years.

That could take its toll, and it’s made worse by the frenetic pace at which the Avalanche are playing. Not only did they once again pass the Lightning, but with fast feet they forced mistakes that resulted in goals.

“We came out with a goal,” said forward Andew Cogliano, who returned after missing Game 1 with a right finger injury. “We got into our game, we ran from the drop of the puck and we just didn’t let up.”

Tampa Bay fell to 18-2 after one loss since the start of the first round in 2020. The 18-straight streak ended in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers when the Lightning fell 2-0 before roaring back. although it’s hard to imagine Colorado falling into the same trap.

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The manner in which the Lightning lost this one – by far the largest blowout loss during this run – came as a surprise to almost everyone.

“Am I shocked we lost 7-zip?” Said Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos. “I mean, I don’t think we saw that coming.”

Even if players shrug off the concept of game-to-game momentum during a playoff series, their rampage at the champions combined with a 7-0 record should fill the Avalanche with confidence. But injuries may require them to re-dip into their pool of depths.

After retrieving Andrew Cogliano after missing the season opener with a right finger injury, the Avalanche Burakovsky lost again in the second period. Burakovsky blocked a shot in the first game in the West Finals and has been playing in pain ever since. Bednar said he will be re-evaluated ahead of Game 2.

Colorado is inflicting a lot of pain on Tampa Bay, who resorted to some hard stuff after going behind. Of course, MacKinnon also threw goals in the third period, although the game was in good control.

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Barely tested at net for Colorado, Darcy Kuemper earned the shutout with 17 saves.

“He was just rock solid,” Manson said. “He was exactly what we needed to be.”

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Follow AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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https://www.local10.com/sports/2022/06/19/avalanche-rout-lightning-7-0-to-take-2-0-lead-in-cup-final/ Avalanche defeats Lightning 7-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the cup final

Sarah Y. Kim

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